A conversation about connoisseurship, quality and sustainability of furniture, art
and objects from the modern era

Recent Posts

Rowland's Ft Greene Community

Vintage Wallpaper Art

Susan Rowland by Appointment

Isamu Noguchi at BBG

Kamilla Talbot: New Works

Chinoiserie Mid-Century Style

Milo Baughman Before + After

Meet Mr. Wormley

townhouse.bz Presents Faux Real

Kipfmueller in Elle Decor

Nelson Sculptures & Prints

Kamilla Talbot: Getting Outside

Joan of Art

To the Pinkneys: A Big Thank You!

Black Tie Halloween?

Problem Solving with Townhouse

Neutra Speaks, Nelson Replies

Falling in Love with Faux Bois

Rowland: Uncontained Forces

Sneak Peek: Rowland Show

Vintage Woodson Wallpapers

Kipfmueller: Process Revealed

Hefty 2-Ply Travels

Oscar Niemeyer, Curvy Modernist

Portrait of Wonder Bread

Peter Shelton, RIP

Take Note: Wondrous Florals

Jud Nelson: Marble Hyperrealism

Faux Forever

After 9/11

Before 9/11

Kool Stools

Salve! Aliquisne domum est?

When is an original not?

Framing Bambi

Welcome to the Knolls

Karl Kipfmueller: Art

Susan Rowland: Art

Kamilla Talbot: Art

Reasons to Love Horsehair

Separated @ birth?

Q&A:I love the bronze table...

A Tonic for the Election

townhouse.bz in the NY Times!

Those legs, I know those legs!

What is Parchment?

Long look Marion, loonger...

What is Shagreen?

Blog Resources

All the Best

An Aesthete's Lament

Architect Design

Habitually Chic

Hollister Hovey

Scala Regalia

House of Beauty and Culture

The Peak of Chic

Archive for the 'Classical Modernism' Category


Susan Scott Rowland passed away Sunday, August 25, 2019 at age 79. Susan lived a full life, as an artist who was endlessly looking, exploring and producing. I knew Susan and her artwork, during the later years of her life. Susan’s output was prolific, first as an abstract expressionist painter and then expanded to ceramics and botanical monoprints.

Below: Amaryllis Again, Oil paint on canvas, 1991


Below: Pod with Dodies Blue, crayon, oil stick and charcoal on paper, 1999.


Below: Pod/Yellow (diptych), crayon, oil stick and charcoal on paper, 1999.


I was first drawn to Susan’s work through her writing. She was smart, well read and engaging. She thought deeply about creativity and its context. You can read her own words here about her Carlas and here about her 9/11 Weed Prints.

Below: Carla, high fired glazed stoneware, 2004.


Below: 9/11 Weed Monoprint, 2002.


Susan’s creativity surged with her exploration of ceramics – she twisted and distorted classic vessel shapes and then developed glazes that drew from her gestural abstract expressionist knowledge. During this period, Susan also experimented with monoprints. She printed weeds, snow, dog fur, ice and then, after 9/11, conceived of her 9/11 series.

Below: Pitcher, high fired glazed stoneware.


Below: Bell, high fired glazed stoneware.


Below: Vessels, high fired glazed stoneware.


Below: Grasses monoprint with Bird, multimedia, 2009.


Susan loved Brooklyn, where she last lived, with her husband, Judge Charles P. Sifton. Susan was a trustee of the Brooklyn Arts Council and sat on the New York State Council of the Arts and NYCDCA panels.

Susan’s family and her Ft Greene community came together to produce a retrospective show of her work, “Uncontained Forces”, in 2013 in the Charles P. Sifton Gallery at the Federal Courthouse. We all loved Susan’s work, and had not fully appreciated her prodigious output until then.

Below is Susan’s work in the process of being collected for her show.


Susan with the poet and collaborator, Frederick L. Seidel.


Below: Vessel, text – Frederick L. Seidel, 1991, high fired glazed stoneware.


Below: Susan and Donald Sultan, friend and fellow artist.


Below: The opening of Susan’s show, “Uncontained Forces”.


Susan Rowland has work in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum and has had shows in Manhattan at the Kate Ganz, Marlborough and Spike Galleries, and at Susan Youngblood in Sag Harbor.

Thank you, Susan, for the gifts you left us. We will miss you.

Posted by Marla Dekker August 29, 2019 / No Comments Filed Under Classical Modernism, Mid-Century Modern, Sculpture, Susan Rowland, townhouse.bz Art

Edward Wormley, second from left pictured with George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, Jens Risom; Playboy magazine, July 1961.

Traveling by Amtrak from Boston to New York one snowy evening in 1995, I came upon an article about the auction of Edward Wormley’s estate. It was a pivotal moment for me. Returning from an auction where I had been seriously outbid on a Herter Brothers chest (now residing in the Metropolitan Museum), it occurred to me that it was time to set my sights on other furniture periods and designers.

The surreal Wormley shell console, above, circa 1950. Hand carved, it is often featured in contemporary interiors.

Edward Wormley, 1907 – 1994, was an American mid-century modern furniture designer who understood the essential elements of modernism, but did not limit himself to one ideology. His furniture represented a convergence of historical design and 20th century innovation. He took the best from Danish, Asian, and classical elements and designed sophisticated, well-crafted furniture prized by collectors and designers.

Wormley’s inclusion in the Good Design Shows at the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 and 1952 positioned him alongside designers Harry Bertoia, George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames.

The Wormley for Dunbar chest above and the Wormley coffee table below use the same minimalist vocabulary with subtle Asian influences.

A favorite in the townhouse.bz collection is the Wormley chair, below. It is beautifully designed, and the execution features brass crossbars and peg joints.

Below, the interplay of the negative space with the refined silhouette of these black lacquered dining chairs is a wonderful example of Wormley’s skill at furniture design and construction.

through the holidays
@ Guild Greene Gallery
281 Greene Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
718 398 6792

Holiday Hours: 12/22, 23 & 24 noon to 6pm; or by appointment.

Barware, jewelry, objects, handmade toys and ornaments, newly restored mid-century modern furniture.

Featuring a pair of Verner Panton cone chairs with orange mohair seats.

A Corbu chaise with a chrome tri-leg glass top coffee table, Alvar Aalto dishes, a Bruce Fox tri-leg aluminum bowl, a Kay Bogeson Penguin.

A Milo Baughman swivel chair, a modern French daybed, a Bernhard Rohm acid etched coffee table.

A Salon Exhibition Art, Objects and Furniture Exploring the Realm of Mid-Century Modernism

Featuring the townhouse.bz collection including Jud Nelson, Kamilla Talbot Piaget Studios, Kathy Urbina, Le Corbusier, Knoll, Milo Baughman, Pierre Jeanneret, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Aldo Tura, Fornascetti, Edward Wormley.

Opening Saturday, July 26th, 2014
From 6 to 9pm
Showing through September 6th, 2014
Thu & Sun 12 to 6pm
Fri & Sat 12 to 7:30pm
or by appointment

@ Guild Greene Gallery
281 Greene Avenue
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn 11238
718 398 6792

Visit Faux Real and explore historic Clinton Hill. Guild Greene’s building is the original 1890s headquarters and laboratory for Bristol Myers. Fine dining nearby includes Speedy Romeo, Marietta, Locando Vini & Olli and Aita.

Shown above: Holos/Series 23, No.1 (Wood Match) Roman Travertine & Red Slate; Jud Nelson, 1994

Contact Us for more information.

Do we have Georges Braque to thank for design’s ongoing love affair with faux bois? Take a look at his 1912 seminal papier-collé Fruit Dish and Glass (Compotier et Verre), which was recently gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by famed art collector Ronald Lauder. When Braque decided to paste pieces of mechanically printed faux bois wallpaper on to his still-life drawing, he elevated a traditional decorative trope to the level of fine art and revolutionized art making.

Once faux bois entered the modernist lexicon, it became an essential design element in textiles, garden furniture, ceramics, and more. The best of these efforts merge wood-grain patterning with the wit and intelligence of twentieth-century art. In Townhouse.bz’s collection, there are several fine examples of Grandjean-Jourdan’s faux bois tableware. This father and son team of post-WWII regional artists created their hand-painted pottery in the famed town of Vallauris—the same area where Braque’s friend and sometimes rival Pablo Picasso produced his own prodigious output of painted ceramics. Clearly, Grandjean-Jourdan drew inspiration from the biomorphic explorations of Jean Arp and Constantin Brâncuși.

These side tables attributed to the legendary San Francisco designer John Dickinson verge into the realm of surrealism. The tables are actually made of wood that has been carved in a stylized manner to imitate the imitators! A visual double entendre that we think George Braque and his contemporaries would have loved.

Posted by Marla Dekker June 6, 2013 / No Comments Filed Under Classical Modernism, Faux Bois, In the News, Modernism, What Is...

I find things by poking around. I am genetically programmed for this task and it makes me happy. Recently I was asked if I wanted to look through items being emptied from a large house. I dropped everything and rushed over. After some searching, I found something rare that made my heart pound.

Spied – an intriguing label found while poking around.

One item that jumped out at me was the logo on a box full of wallpapers. The graphic double capital “W” was so handsome that it immediately said to me something special was inside. There were brand new rolls of wallpaper silkscreened in the 1960s by Woodson Papers, the premiere mid-century modern manufacturer of silkscreened wallpapers, founded by Woodson Taulbee. As I understand it, Woodson Taulbee was interior designer Billy Baldwin’s one true love. Billy Baldwin designed Woodson Taulbee’s apartment and it became an enduring icon of interior design when it was featured on the cover of his 1972 book, Billy Baldwin Decorates.

It is easy to see that the patterns speak the language of the art movements of the day: Andy Warhol’s colors and patterns, David Hicks’ cross grids and Billy Baldwin’s famous chocolate brown backgrounds contrasted with silver foil patterns.

These Woodson Papers are prime examples of 1960s decorative art at its peak. I imagine them in rooms of streamlined Knoll furniture, or with Edward Wormley’s colorful furniture for Dunbar. Robsjohn-Gibbings could have featured them in his decorative schemes behind a chest or framed as part of a door by Tommi Parzinger. Framing and placing these silkscreen wallpapers on a wall makes them art – a very Warholesque idea of appropriation. It is thrilling to see creative ideas survive as good as new after fifty or more years.

Billy Baldwin “B” spied on another box of wallpaper.
vintage wallpapers.”>

View our collection of vintage wallpaper.

Posted by Kevork Babian February 15, 2013 / 9 Comments Filed Under Classical Modernism, Edward Wormley, Just Found, Knoll, Parzinger, Robsjohn-Gibbings, Vintage Wallpaper

Peter Shelton, architect

We all mourn the loss of an inspiring artist who made interiors that were uniquely modern – livable, clean and full of light. A place to call home and bring up a family. Peter Shelton was a principal at one of my all time favorite design firms, Shelton Mindel. Kevork Babian

“Mr. Shelton and his longtime design partner, Lee Mindel, were known for a distinctive modernist aesthetic that blended clean lines with references to classical periods to create opulent settings. Their less-is-more sensibility became a hallmark for apartments ringing Central Park.

“Truly they were leaders in their field,” said Margaret Russell, the editor in chief of Architectural Digest. “They won pretty much every award a firm could win.'” — nytimes

Posted by Kevork Babian September 27, 2012 / No Comments Filed Under Classical Modernism, In the News, Modernism, Shelton Mindel

Recently, I purchased a faux bamboo coffee table and all these heavy memories flooded back in my mind. As a young child in eastern Europe I was invited to play with a foreign minister’s abusive son. I had little interest to play with the sadist but was eager to be escorted by the ministers egotistical wife who wanted to showcase all the treasures they had accumulated from years of theft. What captured my impressionable eyes was the exotic Chinoiserie – ivory, gold, bronze and lacquered objects, but specifically the faux bamboo furniture. I had never seen pieces made from brass to imitate bamboo and was fascinated by the whole idea.

My faux bamboo table reminds me of the all the amazing creators from the 1930s through the 1970s like Maison Jansen, Jacques Adnet, Maison Bagues and Hermes whose work with brass and leather created modern interpretations of bamboo. In the US, these masters were joined by the notorious bad boy James Mont who incorporated bamboo themes into his case goods and transformed the banal into the unusual. His gold, silver leafed and painted designs created a multi-layered effect over ebonized surfaces. Altogether lovely and memorable.

Posted by Kevork Babian November 3, 2011 / No Comments Filed Under Chinoiserie, Classical Modernism, Modernism

If you have read the book The New American Apartment you are probably familiar with the work of the talented architect Michael Gabellini. Featured on his website is another crisp modern apartment designed by Mr Gabellini with a modern steel and stone dining table surrounded by three wood and leather klismos stools. It is an unexpected pairing and very fresh looking.

Pictured: klismos stools in Olympic Tower apartment designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates

I have always liked stools for their versatility as well for their lightness in design.

The French Louis XV stools, pictured above, have legs that look like they will run away.

Modern Scandinavian design reflects the International style of architecture. A favorite stool in our townhouse.bz collection uses dark brown pony hide in a square format contrasted by a chrome steel frame.

Interior designer Kelly Wearstler uses singles and pairs of stools by coffee tables where one can easily move them to a desired spot in a room. I have also seen stools used as coffee tables with a tray placed on top of the stools. And, what can be more useful then a comfortable stool in the bathroom with a seat covered in a favorite textile. In the immortal words of the comedian Billy Crystal: It looks MARVELOUS, DAHLINGGGG.

Townhouse is designed, written and produced by Dekker Babian. Townhouse is located in Brooklyn, NY. All text and photos © 2019.